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Coke plant bombed for Laden 'link'

Coke plant bombed for Laden 'link'

Publication: The Telegraph
Date: May 14, 2002

Terror struck in the posh Patliputra Colony area last evening after a Coca-Cola bottling plant here was bombed by a mysterious "swadeshi" outfit, which left behind leaflets claiming a "bin Laden-Coke pact" to flood India with "foreign consumer items".

The Bihar outfit, Swadeshi Chetna Abhijan, is unattached to any political party and a stranger to the acknowledged brand of swadeshi propagators like the Swadeshi Jagran Manch. The BJP also disowned it.

According to additional director-general of police, Patna zone, A.R. Sinha, a group of motorcycle-borne youths raided the bottling plant last evening and raised slogans against the company when stopped by security personnel. Before leaving, the gang hurled bombs, two of which exploded on one side of the wall, causing some damage. One unexploded bomb was found inside the plant. One of the slogans printed on the leaflets which the police later seized read: "In this country, water, land and air are our own. But why are the foreign commodities?"

"Watankophirgirvi na rakh dena watanwalo, shahido ne bari mushkil se azaadi dilayi thi (Oh countrymen, don't let the nation be mortgaged once again. The martyrs had given us this freedom after a long struggle)," the leaflets said. The pamphlets claimed that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, Saudi terror mastermind Osama bin Laden and Coke were conspiring to "sell" the country. "Kya aap bin Laden ka samarthak hain?" the Abhijan asked, urging people to unite against the imaginary triple entente. Its strident swadeshi sentiment was reflected in the way the organisation compared foreign drinks to foreign urine. It also explained how foreign drinks contained poisons like BVO which are harmful for the natives.

The Abhijan warned that the country's home-grown confectioners would not spare the foreigners. Naming one such network owner, it said Indian cold drink manufacturers would soon take up arms against multinational companies.

Sinha felt the outfit may not be real. "We are trying to investigate their antecedents and the causes of their attack on the bottling plant," he said, adding that the slogans could be a ploy to mislead the police about their actual motive. "Had the outfit been real, it would not have named an Indian company... planning to attack the multinationals. The attack could lead the police to something very different," he said. Investigators said the attack could be related to an extortion racket but this was yet to be confirmed.

While the police have begun raiding hideouts of known antisocial elements, the tone and tenor of the campaign literature prompted some parties to blame the RSS and the BJP. A Rashtriya Janata Dal minister said the BJP was trying to whip up fake swadeshi sentiments in the state.

State BJP spokesperson and party vice-president Kiran Ghai  dismissed the allegation. "We have never heard anything about this organisation before. The BJP does not have any connection with whatever was spoken in the campaign literature. We demand a thorough probe into the incident," she said.

Senior executives of Coke from Delhi and Calcutta are camping here but refused to speak to the media. Sources in the company said the officials were taking to all the employees and trying to assess the situation.

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